Even if Not

Sometimes the old lessons ring truer in the future…

Thoughts from Hazel

I have to admit, my faith is weaker than it should be.  I always wonder why, though.  For if I am certain that something is within God’s will, my faith is through the roof.  However, if it is something I am even slightly iffy on, my faith is more likely through the floor instead.  Until recently, that is…

Daniel 3:17-18 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

This morning, I was blown away at their faith.  “Even if he does not…”  They were prepared to face death, yet they stood in faith.  It didn’t appear to go unnoticed either.


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Our 48 Days of Engagement

I must apologize for not updating you before the wedding, but if I’ve ever called my life a roller coaster (And I have, many times…) this past month it has been intensified more than ever, although in a very good way. Planning a wedding in 48 days is perhaps the most insane thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret it in the least.

I worked really hard on our wedding website and if you didn’t get to check it out, there are several great stories and pictures of Johnny and I together throughout our dating life and engagement. For example:

 Our story has morphed into so many things over the past couple of years. From a love at first sight story to a “I don’t think she’s into me”, it has been a mystery how we ended up right here.

Although we weren’t engaged for very long, we did our best to enjoy every moment and for me, it made the entire thing much more special. However, planning a wedding in less than two months is NOT for the faint of heart, it’s not for everyone and I don’t recommend it unless both you and your future spouse are completely 200% on board and are okay with tons of last minute changes.

We absolutely couldn’t have pulled off this feat without the help of our dear friends and family and I am grateful for each one of them. Above all, for God getting us this far. There is no way we could have the wonderful marriage that we do without His grace and direction in our lives.

“Funny how sometimes, you just find things.” -Tracy McConnel (HIMYM)

Since as long as I can remember, I wanted to be married before I turned 22. However, I never could have imagined the brilliant love story that God had in mind for me. Just before Thanksgiving of 2016, my (at the time) boyfriend and I were on a red-eye flight from LAX to RDU to spend a holiday with my family. As we posed for our traditional airport family photo, Johnny surprised me with a question that would forever change my life – fully supported by my entire family.


I remember waking up from a nap shortly after (trying to get back in the right time zone) and just staring at my hand in shock. I was engaged to my best friend!

From that moment on, everything seems like a blur. From the hundreds of best wishes and congratulations on social media, to starting watching Gilmore Girls with my family, each moment of those 48 days was so precious.


Our engagement was a strange time for me, but I learned a great deal about trusting God in the details of life and that great communication makes everything easier.


Some details came easier; Anthony officiating the wedding, our wedding party, and color scheme. Others were more challenging; getting our families on board with the date, our budget and getting my family to California. However, The Knot wedding checklist saved so many details for me that I would have easily overlooked. (Thank God for technology, amen.) In all the details, the pre-martial counseling and financial strains, Johnny and I fought to preserve our relationship with God and friendship with each other, and that’s what has brought us here today.

Almost two months after our wedding day, I’m still not entirely sure what happened to our arch, a lot of our wedding footage was lost, and we’re on a new adventure of finding more stable full-time jobs, we’ve finally finished Gilmore Girls, we still haven’t gotten a copy of our marriage certificate back, and we’re happily learning what it means to be married and live together. The little slip-ups at the wedding don’t really matter anymore, I still have about 100 programs because we accidentally printed way too many and we’re just now hanging up pictures in our place together.

To me, 48 days was plenty of time to plan a wedding, but a marriage is something we’ll be working on for the rest of our lives.

If I had any advice for the future brides out there, I would say this;

  • Don’t forget to be friends. There’s a lot of planning to do, but your friendship has to come first.
  • Check details and keep checking them – especially to people you don’t know. (3 people looked over our original programs and no one spotted that it said “Wedding date” instead of the actual date of our wedding until they were printed.
  • GET A COPY OF YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE BEFORE TURNING IT IN – No one told us this, but probably because everyone assumed we’d know that. We didn’t. It’s supposed to only take about 45 days, but in the words of Ted Mosby, I’d do anything to get those extra 45 days. I honestly have no idea which name to put on job applications anymore.
  • Get advice and help from tons of people.
  • At the end of the day, make your decisions and enjoy your special day, but more importantly the rest of your lives!

In all gratitude,
Tori Lynn Cortez

The Steps It Takes

Greetings! I must apologize to anyone who frequents this page, I have been rather inactive lately and I hope to put that to an end with this post. To be honest, my struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis has been debilitating in many personal areas of my life and writing is one of the largest ones that has suffered. Thankfully, the swelling in my fingers is currently down enormously and I hope that it stays that way for a while.

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,

I truly hope to live out this scripture over the remainder of the year and my life. To be completely honest, I have failed in many ways, most especially in the last couple of weeks. I have been negligent of my health and too prideful to speak up about it, to the point that my knees had swollen three times their normal size last week, keeping me from being able to perform daily activities. While I’m on the medical path of finding a solution, I’m hoping to pair some natural remedies with my routine.

Sadly, for me, that means the dreaded dieting.

I have avoided diets like the plague my entire life. I love to eat and I love to eat  whatever I want to eat when I want to eat it. I haven’t been big on sugar in a long time, but I love meat and dairy. The moment I googled “Anti-Inflammatory Diet” is a moment that I have come to regret many times the past two weeks. The gist is that I can’t eat sugars, dairy, red meat, “Nightshade Vegetables” (Potatoes, peppers, etc), or grains. My absolute favorite foods include all of these things I’m supposed to stay away from, so cooking has been a nightmare. I have eaten more raw vegetables and salmon than I ever want to see again in my life. However, the swelling has gone down significantly as well as my pain levels. I can’t say for sure how much is the diet and how much is the new medicine I just added last week, but I certainly hope it’s helping.

This week, I’m adding chicken, shrimp, chickpeas and cooked vegetables to my diet in hopes that it will be more bearable once I get the hang of things. Please pray for me as I continue this journey, and if you’ve ever done an anti-inflammatory diet, I would LOVE any input that I can get! (I just attempted my first run at shrimp curry and it tastes AMAZING, but this is still one of the only dishes I’ve learned)


In any case, I’m taking the steps that it takes to get better and I hope to help others along the way!

To God be the glory,
Tori Lynn.

“God Knows My Heart”

When I hear a phrase like this, it’s usually in a defensive form. It is the anthem of modern false Christianity and the very poison that keeps many people from seeing the true light.

The truth? Yes, God knows your heart. But what does a statement like that really imply? It’s most common use is along the lines of; “Yes, I’m purposely choosing to sin but God knows that I’m really a good person most of the time.”

Think about it. How many times have you reasoned that in your own mind? Before you get super defensive reading this, I realize that I’ve used this way of thinking to excuse my own sin before too, and it’s not okay. In my own life, I’ve used this terminology to justify my laziness. I love serving in certain capacities, but when it comes to “Domestic” ways of serving (Cooking, cleaning, ect.) I struggle with coming up with excuses. What about you?

This morning I was reading in Luke when I came across this particular passage:

Luke 16:14-15 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

That didn’t quite feel like the cozy “God knows my heart” saying that passes around. You see, when Jesus taught a hard line message about not loving money, the Pharisees responded in their hearts with contempt. How do you respond to someone calling out your sin? Do you accept the correction or try to justify yourself?

The concept of “God knows my heart” saturates the scriptures pretty deeply. In response to this theology, I’d like to look at a few of the other passages that have similar statements.

Matthew 9:2-6 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

This passage gives another example of Jesus seeing clearly into peoples’ hearts, and what he saw was less than pleasant. God always sees the evil thoughts we entertain. Sure, maybe it wasn’t your idea, maybe it was something that Satan tried to slip into your heart, but did you entertain it? God may know your heart, but that is certainly not an excuse to live wildly. On the other side, Jesus also saw the faith of the paralytic’s friends. What does God see when he looks into your heart?

Proverbs 15:11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD– how much more do human hearts!

Nothing is beyond God’s knowledge. You can’t choose to only let him see the good in you, although many of us are guilty of doing that with the people in our lives, it doesn’t work with God. Your heart lies open before him. Even the things that you don’t quite understand or realize about yourself are as clear as day to God, and if you’re truly following Him, He will take the necessary measures to deal with the evil in your heart.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

If you will allow it, God’s very word (The Bible) will penetrate and reveal your thoughts and the attitudes of your heart. However, this only helps you if you actually read His word and allow it to cut into your heart. God sees everything, nothing is hidden from his sight. You’re right, God does know your heart, but guess what? He wants to change it.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

One of the saddest misconceptions is that you can “Follow your heart” and somehow get closer to God that way. The sad truth is that your heart is full of tricks and it doesn’t always want the best for your soul. Our hearts are full of deceit and seek to please our own emotions. God is examining our hearts, but we must change the way that we live if we’re going to be close to Him.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Instead of using “God knows my heart” as an excuse to sin, let’s have the heart of David to have God search us and lead us in the right way. Don’t be deceived by your heart, let God’s word cut through those tricks and emotions to get you on the right path. If you’re interested in Bible Studies, please contact me and I’d love to help.

Tori Lynn.